There were hints during a House Armed Services Committee hearing earlier this week that Senate and House defense authorization bill conferees were having trouble reaching agreement on a fee-for-service aerial refueling pilot program provision. As Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) put it both sides are engaged in “telling you what to do and how to do it.” On the other hand, Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Tex.) laid blame on the Senate participants for now wanting to dictate “the criteria for number of hours, the number of contractors, [and] the number of aircraft.” Megan Scully of CongressDaily reports it is “one of the most contentious issues” in the 2008 policy bill. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley told lawmakers during the Oct. 24 hearing that he’s concerned what started as a “proof of concept” had taken “an immediate leap to an operational template that drives us into a force structure discussion before we know the impacts after the proof of concept.”
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.